Treating employees like donors

If you have ever been a supervisor who has struggled to create a positive work culture, here is an interesting idea.  In an article published  in the Nonprofit Times recently, a presentation by William F. Bartolini, associate vice president for development at The George Washington University, at the AFP 50th International Conference on Fundraising was discussed.  Mr Bartolini suggested that we use what we know about effective donor stewardship and apply it to employees to help understand, guide and mentor them.  The overall goal was to create greater employee loyalty.


So, what are the marks of donor loyalty? Bartolini identified four:

  • Identification. Perceiving one’s identity as part of an organization or group. Higher levels of participation have been found to translate to higher levels of loyalty.
  • Satisfaction. Donors who have indicated satisfaction with the quality of service provided were twice as likely to offer an additional gift than those less satisfied.
  • Trust. Trust is demonstrated by communicating impact, honoring promises, exhibiting good judgment, making clear the organization’s values, ensuring that communications match donor expectations, engaging in two-way communication and excellence in customer service.
  • Commitment. There is a promise for the future, whereas identification is an evaluation of past experience.  Active commitment involves passion for the cause and usually involves giving to only a small number of organizations. Passive commitment means a belief in the organization or cause but not a passionate belief in it.
  • From The Nonprofit Times, May 28, 2013.

Good stewardship is key to building an effective donor community as well as an effective employee culture.  Both begin with trust.  This is paramount in both relationships.  Mr. Bartolini draws an apt comparison between donor loyalty and employee loyalty.  If an overarching sense of trust exists, then identification, satisfaction and commitment can be explored.

As you think of organizational culture and plans to build donor loyalty, build programs whose foundation is trust and that focus on the needs of the donor, employees and the organization.  In this way you will build stronger organizations through building loyal employees and donors committed to your cause.



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